The US Patent and Trademark Office announced on February 13 that the US had deposited with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the Hague Agreement).

The Hague Agreement treaty will go into effect for the US on May 13.

Industrial Designs

An “industrial design” may include features such as the shape, patterns, or color of an article – anything that is ornamental or aesthetic rather than strictly functional. As the WIPO website says,

Design is where function meets form. From tables to telephones, industrial design is one of the key factors that attracts us to a product, or leads us to prefer using one product over another.

Design patents can be extremely valuable, and Samsung suffered a billion-dollar defeat based in part on a design patent infringement claim by Apple in 2012. Samsung itself is a leading recipient of US design patents.

International Protection

Currently, applicants in the US who wish to protect their industrial designs in multiple jurisdictions must file separate applications in each jurisdiction.

When the Hague Agreement becomes effective for the US, US applicants will only need to file a single international design application with either the US Patent and Trademark Office or WIPO in order to obtain protection in multiple areas.

The Hague Agreement allows applicants to register up to 100 designs in more than 64 territories based on the filing of a single application. South Korea recently became a signatory to the Hague Agreement, Japan is expected to join in the near future, and Canada, China, and Russia also may be joining soon.

The result of the US joining the Hague Agreement should be significant cost savings for owners of design patents who wish to protect their intellectual property rights internationally.

US design patents issued based on applications filed on or after May 13 will have a 15-year term.

Learn More About the Hague Agreement

More information about the Hague Agreement can be found on the WIPO website


If you have questions about protecting your industrial designs, in the US or internationally, please contact our office at 626-796-4000 or toll-free at 855-UR-IDEAS (855-874-3327) for a free initial consultation with one of our intellectual property attorneys. Please also visit our website for more information about us.

Photo Attribution: Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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